DIY Gift and Donation Combinations

In Monday’s post I suggested that making a donation to a non-profit organization can be a terrific gift for someone. But even when you have carefully considered the recipient’s interests and know their favorite charities, it can be more fun when you have an actual gift to offer, wrapped up nicely. So today I’m going to look at ways to combine donations with tangible gifts in creative ways.

My inspiration for this is the World Wildlife Fund‘s “adoption” gifts. For a small donation you can symbolically adopt an endangered animal for yourself or a friend. For a little more money, you get a cute plush toy that looks like that animal.

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Make a Donation as a Holiday Gift

It’s not even Thanksgiving and there are Christmas trees in store windows. I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready for holiday decorations until Santa Claus makes his appearance at the end of the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Still, it’s time to start thinking about holiday plans and gift giving. No good waiting until the last minute.

GiftIf you have anyone on your gift list who’s difficult to shop for, I have a suggestion: make a donation to one of their favorite causes. Donations have been down the past couple of years due to the economy, yet the need is greater. A donation can be a terrific gift–nothing to store, no worrying that it’s the right size or color, and the recipient may be pleasantly surprised by your imaginative gift. You can “wrap” it in a simple envelope, along with an appropriate greeting card or note, and most non-profits will send an acknowledgment directly to the recipient on your behalf.

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When the Unexpected Happens

For almost nine years I have been a volunteer with the American Red Cross. (To be precise I was a paid staff member for three of those years and a volunteer the other six.) In that time I’ve done quite a few things, beginning with two months as a volunteer doing data entry on the World Trade Center disaster response, then working for the September 11 Recovery Program (that was the paid position). After downsizing in 2004, as the Recovery Program was completing its work, I became an active volunteer with the Greater New York chapter.

Last Thursday I was scheduled to give a presentation on emergency preparedness in Staten Island at 7:00 pm. After five years of giving presentations I almost had to cancel one for the first time–there was a tornado warning for Staten Island and Brooklyn until 6:00 pm. And I had figured that I would need to leave at just about 6:00 to get to the location with a little time to set up.

Now this was a serious conflict for me. Although as a volunteer I work many fewer hours than paid staff (and some other volunteers) do, I take my volunteer commitments seriously and once made I almost never cancel–and not at the last minute! Yet would it be appropriate to go out when there was a tornado warning? I was on pins and needles, listening to the radio and watching for text messages from Notify NYC.

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The Transformative Removal of Jargon for Impactful Writing

As someone with a bachelors degree in English, I pay attention to words. When I worked as an administrative specialist in an IT department, I was careful about using terminology correctly–even if I only half-understood the technology behind it.

So when I see jargon overrunning both the technology and non-profit fields, it annoys me. Of course there is a need for new words and phrases, especially in the technology fields; but where a perfectly good word or expression exists, it’s not necessary to reinvent (or rename) the wheel.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently published an article by Elizabeth Ortiz entitled “How Jargon Can Damage Nonprofit Work” that targets three buzzwords run amok–impactful, transformative, and innovative.

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